Reintroduced AACOM-Supported Bill Advances Residency Fairness for DOs

Published February 06, 2023

News Press Release

Bipartisan legislation requires federally funded graduate medical education (GME) programs to equitably accept and assess DO and MD residency candidates


(Bethesda, MD) – Today, the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) applauds U.S. Representatives Diana Harshbarger (R-TN), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Sam Graves (R-MO) and Jared Golden (D-ME) for reintroducing the Fair Access in Residency (FAIR) Act.

“As our nation faces a physician shortage, with rural and underserved areas already in crisis, it is imperative that all medical students have an equitable path to residency training,” said AACOM President and CEO Robert A. Cain, DO. “We thank Reps. Harshbarger, Pingree, Graves and Golden for their leadership in addressing osteopathic medical students’ unfair barriers in applying to federally funded residency training. We also appreciate the 50 national and state organizations who’ve joined us in supporting this vital bill. Correcting the persistent and prevalent inequities faced by DO students, many of whom will go on to practice in rural and medically underserved communities, is crucial to improving healthcare access.”

According to National Resident Matching Program data, 32 percent of residency program directors never or seldom interview DO candidates, and of those who do, at least 56 percent require the MD licensing exam, the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). DO students take the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination of the United States (COMLEX-USA) for graduation and licensure. Both the COMLEX-USA and USMLE confer unrestricted physician licenses. DO students should not be subjected to exclusion or the emotional and financial strain of a second exam, which exceeds physician licensure requirements.

The FAIR Act requires government funded GME programs to: (1) report annually the number of applicants for residency from osteopathic and allopathic medical schools and how many such applicants were accepted from each respective type of school and (2) affirm annually that they accept applicants from osteopathic and allopathic medical schools, and if an examination score is required for acceptance, the COMLEX-USA and USMLE licensing exams will be equally accepted.

“The National Rural Health Association applauds Reps. Diana Harshbarger, Chellie Pingree, Sam Graves and Jared Golden for re-introduction of the Fair Access in Residency (FAIR) Act,” said Alan Morgan, National Rural Health Association CEO. “This important legislation will help to ease rural physician shortages through removing overly restrictive residency criteria and result in greater engagement of osteopathic medical students from rural areas.”

“The Tennessee Osteopathic Medical Association applauds Rep. Harshbarger for leading bipartisan legislation to help ensure osteopathic graduates have an equitable path to access federally funded residency programs,” said Betsy Hilt, CAE, Tennessee Osteopathic Medical Association executive director. “Osteopathic physicians, like those who graduate from the Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine, play a critical role in our nation’s healthcare delivery system, particularly in rural and underserved areas. The FAIR Act is an important step forward to removing the unnecessary barriers DOs face and increasing access to healthcare in communities in Tennessee and across the county.”

“The Maine Osteopathic Association supports the Fair Access in Residency (FAIR) Act, which we believe is a step in the right direction to providing fair and equal access to training opportunities for graduates of osteopathic medical schools—like the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNE COM) in Biddeford,” said Amanda Richards, Maine Osteopathic Association executive director. “We believe this legislation helps to ensure that our medical students are able to get access to the postgraduate training programs they want and need to become the best doctors they can to care for Mainers by removing unnecessary and unfair residency criteria. On behalf of the Maine Osteopathic Association, I want to thank Reps. Pingree and Golden for taking a step to support Maine's future osteopathic doctors!”

“The Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons, which includes nearly 2,500 osteopathic medical student members from our state’s three osteopathic college campuses, is extremely grateful to Representative Graves for his sponsorship of the FAIR Act,” said Brian Bowles, Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons executive director. “The bill helps ensure fair consideration of osteopathic medical students in Missouri and nationwide for graduate medical education programs funded by Medicare. Representative Graves has been a strong advocate for rural healthcare and medical education. We commend him for his efforts and leadership.”

Osteopathic medical students currently represent 25 percent of our country’s future physicians, a number projected to grow to one third of all medical students by 2030. Many osteopathic medical students go on to practice primary care in rural and underserved communities. Removing unjust barriers to federally funded residency training for this growing number of future physicians ensures that the osteopathic medical students of today can make the greatest difference for their patients of tomorrow.


The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) leads and advocates for the full continuum of osteopathic medical education to improve the health of the public. Founded in 1898 to support and assist the nation's osteopathic medical schools, AACOM represents all 38 accredited colleges of osteopathic medicine—educating more than 35,000 future physicians, 25 percent of all U.S. medical students—at 62 teaching locations in 35 U.S. states, as well as osteopathic graduate medical education professionals and trainees at U.S. medical centers, hospitals, clinics and health systems. 


Joseph Shapiro
AACOM Director of Media Relations
(240) 938-0746

Christine DeCarlo
AACOM Senior Manager of Media and Public Affairs
(202) 603-1026